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The Amaranthine Mirage

Summary:
Jasper has mercilessly been ripped from Alice's loving arms by Maria. Can the Cullens get to him in time? Or will they be too late to stop the beast he will become? sequel to visions of you!


Notes:


2. chapter two

Rating 0/5   Word Count 5822   Review this Chapter

A cell phone; the most basic form of communicative technology and yet it still managed to terrify me as it began to sing from inside Palo's breast pocket. I'd been sprawled out moodily upon the couch watching the sky grow steadily darker for several hours now, though as to how many I'd lost count. I was too wrapped up in the inner workings of my mind to deal with such trifles as I would on a normal day. My entire body went completely still as the mutt removed the black device, selected talk and held it to his ear. "Hello," he answered, though is sounded more like 'hallo' with his thick Italian accent.

This was the call we'd been waiting for hours to receive; the call that would change my life forever. I tensed, listening intently. "Bring him," Maria hissed through the line. Nothing else was said. Palo hung up. The wolf seemed to chuckle minimally as he returned the mobile to its respective pocket. Bring me where? It seemed that I was about to find out but I wasn't so sure I was that curious. I was perfectly content to wallow on the couch for the rest of eternity and never know what was planned. Unfortunately, Palo was not offering that option. "Come, Jasper," he patronized, "let's go and have a little fun, eh?"

"Can I take a rain check," I inquired sarcastically, not budging from my location.

"I'm afraid not," he replied as though my words hadn't been sarcasm at all. His tone became more demanding, "Move… now!"

"Alright, alright," I mumbled ghosting to my feet and adjusting the collar of my shirt, "keep your britches on Rover. There's plenty of me to go around."

Palo's jaw set but he didn't utter a response to my jab. Sarcasm was my best weapon right now. I was too weak to fight, too weak to run; my mouth would have to do all the work for me. I could sense the anger my comment had caused rising up within him as he shoved my forward. "We'll take the back way," he spoke with forced calm, "but this time we walk."

"Sir, yes sir," I chuckled lightly.

He gripped my shoulder tightly, possibly tighter than necessary, as we exited the room. His anger was mounting. Could I make a break for it? I could manipulate him into letting me go; it would only be too easy. There was no one else around to stop me. A plan began to formulate itself in my clever mind. I might be too weak to run away but walking away would be easy as pie. We entered the stairwell and began descending the steps as I created a mental checklist and took in my surroundings. The Volturi were fairly close by as far as vampire speed was concerned. Maria would have ordered Palo not to cause a scene in front of the humans. If I could just get to a location with plenty of onlookers, my plan could work!

Down, down, down, we spiraled at a humans pace. The repetitive motion was beginning to make me quite dizzy in my blood deprived state. As the thought of how thirsty I was crossed my mind, my stomach gave a growl of demand. "Shut up", I shouted in my head to the empty beast. "You can't be fed! I simply won't have it!"

It seemed odd that I was trying so hard to be good. It was true, slipping up did bother my conscience in more ways than one but in the past I would have made an exception if needed. It was different here. In Forks I would have had an entire family behind me to reign in the monster that waited behind closed doors. Alice would have calmed the dread filled emotions and depression that soon followed and before I could even blink there would be no second guessing my choice to hunt animals instead of humans. Every once in a while I simply needed a reminder. Here, there was no reminder. The instant I gave in to what I was it would be a nightmare! Even the thought of leaving the safety of the hotel was beginning to frighten me. What if I hurt someone? What if someone died because I couldn't control the beast within?

Punishment, that seemed to be on Maria's agenda this evening, at least according to what I'd overheard. What worried me all the more was the fact that Alice would see. Palo was to be ordered away leaving his involvement out of the equation and my future open once again. Alice would see it all. Alice would see? And then it dawned on me… what Alice had seen that had terrified her so was the event that was about to take place. Her scream and anguished emotions echoed over and over in my mind and suddenly I was consumed in fear. What had she seen? What was about to happen? Was there any way to stop it?

Finally, we neared the ground floor. My lips pursed as I tried to pull all of my energy together. I had to get away. The new sense of dread and fear pulsing through me seemed to give me the adrenaline rush of a lifetime. Just as we reached the exit door, Palo stopped me suddenly. "No funny business," he demanded. I gave a stoic nod and swallowed hard. My mind did its best to focus on emotional agony, buckets and buckets of it. With a slight smirk, my eyes hardened and I set the uncomfortable emotion in his aura. The mongrel gave a yelp of sorts as he released me to clutch his head; time to get away.

I wrenched the door off of its hinges and tore down the abysmal depths of the side alley. Forget walking. Alice's vision couldn't come true; I wasn't going to let it. Despite being very agile and quick, in my then current state I'd become clumsy and my speed was cut almost in half. I pushed harder, trying to move faster. I heard Palo shout after me but his words were lost in the air; I was only focused on reaching the end of the alley. Just as I was rounding the corner, a pair of arms grabbed me from behind and began dragging me backwards. Victoria's scent was recognizable to my senses. "No," I growled in frustration as I struggled against her. My body pitched forward in an effort to get away and I almost succeeded but her arms soon tightened. Palo was running down the cobblestones toward us now.

I writhed all the more in Victoria's grasp, trying to break loose but to no avail. I simply wasn't strong enough with an empty stomach. In a last ditch effort to save myself from the fate that awaited, I kicked against the wall with a grunt. The force sent both Victoria and I toppling to the ground. To my dismay her grip still held. "Let me go," I hollered angrily.

"Hurry up," she snarled to Palo.

My hands clawed at the cobblestones pulling up a few in the process. I tried to use my gift against her but I didn't contain enough stamina. I'd used all of my energy for such things on Palo. For future reference, I'd have to make a note to never skip a meal. My fear began to mount as the mongrel finally reached us. His feet headed straight for the black car hidden in the shadows that I hadn't noticed before. Whatever happened, I couldn't get in that vehicle! In a last act of desperation, I sunk the sharpness of my teeth into her forearm. As expected, she gave a cry of pain and released me to suck the venom out before it became too late to do so. I took the opportunity to blur in the opposite direction as fast as my feet could carry me. There still weren't any humans in this area. Where were they?

I heard cheering a good flew blocks over and picked up the sounds associated with a parade. Maria had chosen this night on purpose. She knew I'd try to run and had planned for the humans to be away from the back alley's of Rome. The sound of shredding fabric sent terror through me. Shortly thereafter I was knocked to the ground, tearing up stones with every tumble. Groaning slightly, I stumbled to my feet and tried to run but the large black and gray wolf that now stood behind me lashed out with its head and suddenly I was hurdling through the air. My body smashed into the second story of the tall stone building, showering the ground with debris. I seemed suspended between space and time for a brief moment before I freefell back to the ground, cracking the pavement.

This was wrong; it wasn't supposed to end this way. I was the good guy. I was meant to win. Though in a stupor from the impact, I managed to prop myself up on my elbows and glare at the mongrel. He growled, baring his teeth. It meant 'don't move a muscle or I'll rip you to shreds'. Victoria suddenly grasped my hair and yanked me violently to my feet. My cry of pain echoed through the surrounding air though the noise from the nearby parade drowned it out. Her remaining icy hand closed on my throat from behind as she hissed, "You are so very lucky Maria values you so highly…otherwise I wouldn't hesitate to rip your head from your shoulders right now!"

The large mutt seemed to chuckle deep in its throat at her statement. Without another word spoken to me, she gripped me around the middle in an unbreakable vice and began dragging me towards the black vehicle that waited ominously to take me towards the horrors Alice had seen. I didn't want to go there. I wanted so desperately to change her vision, to take away the terror I'd felt in her emotions as she saw it unfold when I left. With this wish in mind, I continued to struggle against Victoria's vices. Palo watched in amusement as she popped the trunk open via remote and my eyes widened in fear as I realized what she was intending to do with me. Once more, I pitched forward, trying desperately to get away. Her arms merely tightened as she gave a growl of frustration. "No," I half sobbed, half shouted as I was dragged ever nearer to the car."NO!" Exhaustion was beginning to tug at me but I wasn't about to give up. I squirmed and kicked with as much force as I could muster. Suddenly, I heard a loud crack and I collapsed in a heap, unable to move. Victoria had thumped me hard on the neck, breaking the connection from my spine to my brain. I'd only experienced such agony once before. It would take a decent half an hour before it healed itself and I could move again. "You might as well just accept your fate, Jasper," Victoria gave a half smile as she towered above my form. "There's no escaping it."

The next thing I knew, she tossed me carelessly into the trunk and slammed the lid shut, thrusting me into darkness. I'd failed. I'd failed and Alice was about to witness the outcome of my failure. If I could have moved, I would have winced at the thought but not even my eyes could shift. I appeared a dead lifeless body with its soul still miraculously intact, the curse of being undead. Victoria's footsteps met my ears. She opened the passenger side door and tossed some sort of fabric on the ground. "Here's a spare set of clothes," she breathed in slight annoyance. "Be quick about it."

I heard the padding of dog feet against the cobblestones as they trotted away around the corner. Victoria sighed and began muttering inaudibly to herself as she ghosted around the car and slid behind the wheel, slamming the door behind her. What were they going to do with me? I heard Victoria curse and rub something. I knew at once that my venom had stung her skin. Even though she'd sucked it out, the skin would still burn until it healed. If I could have smirked, I would have. At least I'd managed to do some damage. Footsteps sounded against the ground once more followed closely by Palo's heartbeat. He opened the passenger door and the car bounced a tad as he climbed in and clicked it shut behind him. Without hesitation, Victoria turned over the engine and gunned it down the road.

"What happened to you," the mutt asked curiously, probably noting the injury on her arm.

"He bit me," she muttered venomously.

"Really?" Palo chuckled to himself, "He's certainly making things difficult. I should raise my price."

"If you do, you might find yourself at the bottom of the nearest body of water," Victoria mused.

Another chuckle from Palo, this one more amused than the first. "We shall see. He's much more streetwise than I would have thought."

"He's a Cullen," Victoria breathed icily.

"Yes, but he wasn't always a Cullen."

"You'll have to ask him about that yourself. I don't keep tabs on people I intend to kill."

Palo chortled. Silence was held after that and I remained in the darkness of the trunk, bouncing slightly at the bumps in the road. I tried to judge the distance we'd traveled but without seeing my surroundings it was impossible to tell. For all I knew we could be driving in circles. Not long after, the road conditions changed and I knew we'd left the city limits. Where were we going? My finger twitched lightly. Relief waved over me as I realized my body was healing itself. How long it would take to finish its job, I couldn't be sure.

Time continued to tick by and as it did, my motor functions slowly came back under my control. I took a deep breath and grimaced as I popped my neck the rest of the way back into place. It issued a loud crack followed in short by a burst of pain. "Son of a…" I exclaimed biting my tongue at the last second and smashing my fist into the side of my confinement instead. It left a dent in the shape of my fist. After I'd taken a moment to breathe and compose myself I heard chuckling from inside the cabin of the vehicle. I rubbed my neck lightly. Why did I always seem to find myself in these situations? It seemed like I was a magnet for trouble.

If I wasn't so sick with thirst, I would have busted out of the trunk and made a break for it but I knew that plan would fail. Palo and Victoria would just catch me and bring me back. I was trapped with no hope of rescue. As the darkness of the situation began to fall on me like a weight, the car suddenly screeched to a halt and I heard a rush of wind as Victoria blurred to the trunk. Moonlight shined down upon me as she opened the door to my small confinement. My mind immediately began profiling the area, categorizing the smells and sights. There was fresh water nearby, likely a stream of some sort; I could smell it mingling with the night air. Thick trees were visible behind the red headed nomad. We were somewhere in the Italian countryside. What were we doing here? With malice, Victoria yanked me from the bin and tossed me to the ground. My body tumbled once or twice. Maybe biting her hadn't been a wise idea. "Get up," she growled as her foot connected with my gut.

I doubled over with a grunt. The sick feeling in my stomach seemed to worsen. Once again, I cried out in pain as she wrenched me to my feet by the hair and shoved me forward violently. I stumbled once or twice before muttering in annoyance, "Alright, alright, I'm going!" Snappily, I brushed the dirt from my clothing and continued forward with a scowl. The wind rustled through the leaves of the topiary as we made our way beneath the canopy. The green roof seemed to close me in, trapping me all the more in this horrible nightmare. With no idea where I was going, I walked forward, each step feeling like lead. Knowing Maria, whatever was about to happen was going to be torturous. Maybe I deserved it. I'd run away and completely turned my back on her. I blinked hard and stared at the air in a confused daze. Had I really just thought that?

Anxiously, I scanned the forest around me, moving only my eyes. Maria was nowhere in visible sight. Those thoughts had been my own. It had begun. She was slowly gaining a presence in my subconscious and changing me from the inside out. Why hadn't I sucked the venom out when she'd bitten me back in Forks? The answer was both simple and terrifying; because she'd made me believe that I deserved it. This idea was becoming permanent in my judgment as it had been once before and this time Peter wasn't here to knock some sense into me.

The brush barely made a sound beneath our feet as the three of us walked on. Victoria would occasionally prod me in the right direction. I didn't mind her silence. It gave me time to think, something that I wouldn't be allowed to do much of in the near future. Why did Victoria want to learn the art of creating a newborn? How had she come across Maria? I supposed it was the age old idea of a common enemy. Still, I didn't understand what she hoped to achieve. Maybe she was tired of being lonely? My thoughts were interrupted as a trickle of fear hit the top of my spine and slowly made its way down. My smell sensory identified Maria and Nadia but they weren't alone. Alluringly mixed betwixt them, teasing me, almost mocking me, was the scent of a human. This wasn't punishment. This was intervention. The scene at Bella's party played over in my mind during the blink of an eye. I was in serious trouble.

I turned hastily and made to run but Victoria ghosted in front of me. As terror began to fill my own aura, I was forced to turn around. Her arm made a vice in front of my throat, shoulder to shoulder as she led me forward. Nadia was sitting comfortably on the low branches of a nearby tree as our little threesome entered a small clearing. I could tell she didn't approve of the event that was about to take place but at the same time, she wasn't about to stop it. Clutched delicately in Maria's arms was a young Italian girl with dark hair and brown eyes. She couldn't be more than fourteen. The human was scared beyond belief. Her fear was not something I would easily forget. A stream of sorts was bubbling just behind the two of them, its peaceful song out of place in the current moment. My mind could see the whole picture now…and I didn't like it. I could already feel the burn in my throat worsen at the beating of the girl's fragile heart. The monster within me seemed to scream, "LET ME OUT!" I swallowed hard, wincing as the venom burned down my throat. "Let her go," I spoke in a wavering tone. "I'm not going to kill her!"

"Oh, I think you are," Maria smiled deviously and nodded once to Victoria.

"Leave us Palo," Victoria called acidly over her shoulder.

The wolf nodded in assent and disappeared into the shadows. Now I was open. Alice could see me. I wanted to try and get a hidden message to her but all my concentration was on self control. A bird screeched from a nearby tree, flying off into the sky, sensing danger. Nadia folded her arms in disagreement. Victoria pulled a switchblade from her pocket. My eyes grew wide. A paper cut; that was all it had taken at Bella's party for me to go insane. Something told me this would be considerably worse. I had to escape.

Though I struggled, I couldn't break free. Victoria was holding me in such a way that I could barely move. In a fluid motion, she tossed the knife towards Maria who caught it effortlessly. The muscles in my neck were straining as I tried to break free but I was so depleted of energy by this point it was no use. I growled deeply in annoyance and frustration. Victoria laughed, enjoying this way too much. The human was crying now. A river of tears rolled down her cheeks. Maria had told her what was to happen; I could see it in her eyes. The click of the blade as it was released echoed loudly in my ears. "Please don't," I half begged, still trying to get out of Victoria's lock.

I knew what would happen. I knew what I would become and once I went down that road it would be difficult to turn back. The blade of the knife glimmered dangerously in the moonlight as Maria twirled it about playfully. The girl's heartbeat began to speed. Venom accumulated in my mouth and the monster beat against its cage door, anticipating its release. I ordered it to stay back. It had to stay back. "It's for your own good, mi amor," Maria cooed.

A pause; the world was hushed. Nothing happened. My breath stilled in my chest. Suddenly, I winced as an earsplitting scream filled the air. Slowly, Maria was dragging the sharp point of the blade from the youth's wrist to her elbow. The sound of tearing flesh ripped loudly through my eardrums followed by a sound I knew all too well; blood gushing from a wound. My eyes opened slowly and suddenly the girl didn't look like a person to me. Without really thinking on it, I took a deep breath. The sweet aroma of blood enticed my senses, tantalizing them with its poisonous allure. Venom was flowing nonstop across my teeth begging to paralyze the awaiting victim. The beast stepped out of his cage with a roar of triumph. He was free and this time there was no one there to hold him back.

I was still struggling against Victoria but now I was trying to get to the blood instead of turn away from it. Adrenaline began to fuel me as the prospect of ending my pain was suffering right there before my eyes. A growl of frustration at my confinement sounded through my lips. "Release him," Maria whispered with pleasure on each inflection.

Everything moved in slow motion as my instincts won out over reason. My bonds were released. Maria shoved the girl forward. My limbs began to move. My brothers weren't there to grab me. Alice couldn't call out to me. In a split second, I'd ghosted to the nameless human. She shivered at my touch as sheer terror consumed her. My tongue quickly lapped up that which was spilling down her arm. Sobs racked her ribcage as bloodlust consumed me. It tasted so good, like a rare vintage that hadn't been opened in a long while. Her emotions weren't enough to stop me though I knew they'd haunt me later. I was caught in a sort of trance. None of that mattered to me.

Relief began to minimally coat my throat; I wanted more. Showing no mercy, I plunged the sharpness of my gleaming white teeth into her neck. Agony soon flooded my gift followed in short by her sonorous screams of anguish to my ears but I didn't care. My teeth merely submerged themselves farther, piercing her jugular as I lowered her slowly to the ground. She writhed beneath me, trying to escape but I was stronger. I had to have what waited inside. It was a necessity! Sweet, sweet relief flooded my body as the blood began to flow into my awaiting jaws. A soft moan of appeasement rumbled in my throat as I drank more and more. I would take it all. It was mine and no one else's! The agony began to fade. The shouting became a dull groan. Movement ceased as the venom did its job.

Her breathing became laborious in a few seconds time. The dull thud of her heartbeat began to taper slowly until there was barely anything between its thrumming. The color of her skin began to fade with blood loss. I continued to drink. She continued to diminish beneath me. Five more clock ticks went by. Her heart beat continued to slow. Tha-wump...tha-wump…tha…wump…tha…silence. I drank until the last of her blood was removed from her now lifeless body. I felt as I hadn't in years, alive, rejuvenated, and strong. A sigh of contentment left my lips as I finally removed myself from the empty pith.

After a moment, my conscious self began to return at least halfway. My eyes fell on the form of the dead girl at my feet and what I had just done slowly began to sink in. Her agony and terror were still burned on my memory despite their now nonexistent state. The river rushed by. The world revolved. Life resumed. I slowly took a few steps back feeling guilt and shock consume me. They pressed upon me like a weight until I belatedly sank to my knees simply staring at the damage I'd done. The human's last scream was still etched on her face and fear was still present in her glassy eyes. What moments ago had merely been the ticket to my abatement was now a person who had family and friends that would grieve over her death.

Like clockwork, there it was; a mask of stoicism, bitter emotions, regret, and depression. My eyes stared into the lifeless depths of the dark haired youth sprawled before me. Had I really just enjoyed her murder? Maria's hand twisted itself at the base of my curls as Alice used to do when I berated myself with thought. Icy lips tenderly kissed my cheek and a nose nuzzled the same location. "It will get easier," Maria whispered in my ear. "If you would stop fighting so hard against the inevitable it would be easier still. I wish you would try."

Her lips caressed my cheek once again but I neither moved nor breathed. It had happened just as Alice said it would. I was dead inside. Everything, everything, was gone. My sense of hope, my will to survive, all erased. Victoria removed the body and dumped it in the river but that didn't erase the feeling of hopelessness that engulfed me. It didn't change the satisfaction that my subconscious was feeling at a successful kill. No one had stopped me. No one was trying to pull be back to my senses. Soon, it would become easier and that was possibly the most frightening thing of all. I would kill and kill again until there was no stopping me. The switch from human's to animals had been painstakingly difficult. I'd never been perfect at it and probably never would be but once I passed a certain point, there would be no going back. I knew it. Maria knew it. I was back on the road to becoming a monster.

As Maria and Victoria cleared the scene, Nadia placed a gentle hand on my cheek and tilted my head up to meet her gaze. Her thumb stroked back and forth twice as I sensed her pity. "Why do you try so hard to be different," she questioned. "This is what you are. You are only hurting yourself by trying to be anything else."

It was difficult to be angry with Nadia. Her aura was gentle and kind, she was simply misguided. "I didn't choose this life," I mumbled as shame piled atop the bitterness already building inside of me. "I was a good kid who joined the army out of spite and found out who I was meant to be. Before I even got a chance to live it was all ripped away. I was made to slaughter hundreds upon thousands of people, to turn them into vampires and then kill them a year later. I'd gone from the guy who would jump into a burning building to save a child to the man who was holding the torch and watching as everyone inside died. I had no reason to try. I had no reason to exist but that all changed.

She came along; Alice. She was so innocent and so oblivious to the world around her. Something inside me had to protect her; I had to keep people like Maria from infecting the glorious light that she gave to all she met. She saved me and taught me how to love again. I was free from all of this…this…stupidity!" Anger and self loathing were beginning to bubble on the surface. "I try so hard because I love her; because I want to make her happy and because I don't want to become like this: a lifeless, empty shell of a man who can't feel anything but lost!"

Nadia simply stared at me for a moment. Though her aura was seemingly peaceful and full of genuine sympathy, her next words did nothing to alleviate the depression now seeping throughout me. "Jasper," she sighed, "Alice is a part of your past. Rather, she's part of the side life you were given for a while. Think of it as a vacation from the work you have been called to do. It's time to let it all go and embrace who you truly are."

With a gentle pat on my cheek, she gave a warm smile and departed to cover our tracks. I remained slumped on the ground in defeat. I'd lost. I, Jasper Michael Whitlock, had failed. The soldier inside of me wasn't taking this notion very well. I'd fought a good fight but in the end my valor hadn't been enough. Was I cursed? Was there some sort of law against my being happy? My family had promised me… they promised me! And yet here I was again, lost and alone. I felt a pair of arms close around me and suddenly I was on my feet being prodded forward. Like a ghost, I walked, following the same path we'd treaded before. As the sound of the river began to fade, I stole one last glance back at the dead human. She would have been lovely if she'd had the chance to grow up. I'd taken that chance away in the same way Maria had taken mine. Was I any better than the woman who changed me?

Maybe that was the key to this whole thing. Her venom had made me into this monster and it seemed that it had tainted any chance of a good life. As we walked on, Nadia erasing out tracks as we went, I began to wonder what life would have been like if it had been Carlisle who had changed me. The multitude of scars beneath my shirt would be gone, the bitterness that I'd harbored in my heart for a century would never have happened and I still would have Alice. Perhaps my life would have been better. Underbrush and low hanging branches brushed against my skin as we continued. Every step was heavy and without purpose. What was going to happen to me now?

Palo was waiting for us at the end of the tree line and once again my future was cut off to Alice. I was tempted to try and run but I knew now was not the time. Maria would order me to stop and if I defied my head would burst until I wished for death. Would the Cullens even want me anymore? What if Maria was right? What if they had only kept me around so Alice wouldn't leave? Maybe it was better if they just moved on. Maybe I should move on.

These thoughts continued on their path until I recalled Alice's emotions, the way she smiled, her laugh and the gentle way in which she kissed me. My head began to twinge. I looked up. Maria had a content smile on her face. A slight growl rumbled in my chest, my head panged all the more. I braced myself for it to split open but Maria let go. Shame coursed through me of my own accord. She had almost succeeded that time and I'd been oblivious to it. How much longer could I last?

Soon we were at the car once again only this time I was allowed to ride in the cabin. "Nadia," Maria spoke softly laying a gentle hand on the Indian's shoulder. She lowered her voice as I climbed in the back seat and shut the door. "Can you do that," she inquired after a moment. Do what? Dang blast it! I should have been listening more intently! "I can try," Nadia gave a single nod, "But he's not going to like it."

"I'm not asking him to like it," Maria's words were slightly harsh. "I said this would end tonight and so it shall."

"I will do my best."

"Bueno. We will be back later after we take care of some last minute arrangements."

Nadia gave a nod.

"You trust Nadia," a voice whispered in my mind. "You will not try to run from her. There is no danger."

Whether I realized what Maria was doing or not didn't matter. The lie had already set itself in my subconscious mind and I couldn't remove it because I hadn't been prepared for it. Maria gave a satisfied smile as Nadia climbed in the front passenger seat and Palo entered the driver's seat. Shortly thereafter, the world was blurring by at high speed. Palo was enjoying my suffering immensely but Nadia seemed unsure. There were so many different possibilities running through my mind as I thought on Maria's words. Despite knowing that when we returned I would be unhappy with what was going to occur, I didn't feel like running. For some unknown reason, I wanted to stay. Vicissitude had begun against my will. Soon, I would have no morals; I would have no heart to speak of. Depression would stay with me and a stoic expression would be the only one visible on my face. There was one thing that hadn't been voiced between any of us but that I knew would take place. In the end of it all, when my abilities were no longer needed …I would die at Maria's hand.